The warm home discount is a scheme designed to ease the financial pressure of paying winter energy bills for those living on low incomes or a pension.
The discount is normally applied to your electricity bill. However, in some cases you may be able to put it towards gas bills, if they are provided by the same provider.
For the winter period 2020-2021, the warm home discount is a one-off sum of £140 including VAT. This amount will be taken off your electricity bill sometime between January and March 2021. If you have a pre-paid or pay-as-you-go meter it will be sent to you in the form of a credit voucher or rebate cheque.
There are two ways you can qualify for the warm home discount.
1 - If you are retired, and receive the guarantee credit as part of your pension credit (even if you also get the savings credit)
If this describes your situation, you are part of what is referred to as the 'Core Group' and are automatically eligible for the discount.
2 - If you have a low income, and meet your energy suppliers criteria.
Usually you will qualify if you meet one of the following criteria:
You receive benefits such as Universal Credit, or Income Support
Your household income is less than £16,000 and you have a child under 5 living with you
Your household income is less than £16,000 and you receive Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Incapacity Benefit, or Attendance Allowance
If this describes your situation, you are part of the 'Broader Group' and may qualify for the discount.
You must fulfil the eligibility criteria of either the 'broader' or the 'core' group on the qualifying date to get the discount for that year. Usually the qualifying date is in July. This year it was 5 July. So, if you fulfilled the criteria on 5 July 2020, you will be eligible to receive the warm home discount for winter 2020-2021
How you apply for the warm home discount scheme will depend upon which group you fall into.
I'm part of the 'Core Group'
If you're in the Core Group (you collect the Guarantee Credit element of pension credit) you should receive a letter from the the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) between October and December. This will confirm your right to claim the warmer home discount and let you know if you need to take any further action.
In some cases you might need to call the dedicated helpline to confirm some basic information about you and the pension credit you claim. However, in most cases your discount will be applied automatically.
If you haven't received a letter by the beginning of December, and you think you qualify for help, you should contact the Department of Work and Pensions. You can do that here.
I'm part of the 'Broader Group'
If you're part of the 'broader group', it's up to your energy provider whether you qualify for help. The first thing you should do is check whether you meet your supplier's qualifying criteria. If you are eligible for their warm home discount scheme you will need to apply directly to your supplier. In many cases this will require contacting your provider and filling out a form. You will need to demonstrate how you meet the criteria, by providing information about your salary, benefits, disabilities, dependents, and anything else that might be relevant for consideration.
You may also be asked to provide documentation to prove any information you give.
Many suppliers only have a limited number of warm home discounts available and will allocate them on a first come first served basis. To make sure you get the discount, apply as soon as the scheme opens.
Legally any energy supplier that has over 150,000 customers has to offer the warm home discount - though they are allowed to specify the eligibility criteria for those in the 'broader group'. This means that most of the major energy suppliers offer the warm home discount scheme, including British Gas, E.ON, EDF Energy, nPower, Ovo, Scottish Power, and Shell.
Many small energy suppliers also offer the scheme voluntarily, or just for the 'core group'.
If you're unsure whether your supplier participates in the scheme, you can enquire with them directly, or check if their name appears on the full list here on the government website.
Your warm home discount will not be paid directly to you, but will be taken off your electricity bill automatically at some point between January and the end of March. Your supplier will be able to let you know when to expect it.
If you have a pay-as-you-go or pre-paid meter, you will get your discount slightly differently. Your supplier will either send you a voucher to use to top up your meter, or they will send you a rebate payment in the form of a cheque or account credit. You should get this before the end of March.
Similarly to the differences in the way you apply, there are differences between the 'core' and 'broader' groups when it comes to switching provider.
If you're a member of the 'core' group you're automatically eligible for the warmer homes payment. So, if you met the qualifying criteria in July, you will get the energy bill cut in winter, regardless of your provider.
If you've switched supplier after the qualifying date, your old energy supplier is responsible for making the payment. If you switched before the July qualifying date, your new energy supplier will sort the discount as usual.
Switching as a 'broader' group customer is slightly different. Each electricity supplier has a different criteria, so while you may be eligible for support from one company, you may not from another. This means you'll need to resubmit your application after you switch.
If you're considering switching electricity supplier after the qualifying date - for example if you're moving house - make sure to look into their eligibility criteria first to ensure you don't miss out on help with your bill. Once you've made the switch apply as soon as possible for the best chance of acceptance.
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